The government’s failure to support the ailing UK steel industry in last week’s budget has put thousands of jobs at risk, the prime minister has been told.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, shared with the Guardian, trade union Unite said it was “disappointed” that the government had not announced plans to tackle the “serious threats facing the sector”.
The British steel industry has been shrinking for decades, amid competition from foreign imports, decarbonisation costs and soaring bills for the huge amount of energy required to make the alloy.
“It is your government’s official policy to grow foundation industries like steel, make them more internationally competitive and secure more jobs in them throughout the UK,” said the Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham. “But there is no sign that this is actually happening.
“Instead, the UK steel industry is shrinking, becoming less competitive and losing skilled jobs.
“This is a threat to thousands of workers and their families across Wales, the Midlands, the north-east and beyond. It is also a threat to the very heart of the communities that surround them. And it is a threat to the future of our national security and our broader manufacturing and construction industries.”
She welcomed plans to inject £600m into the industry to keep the UK’s last four steel blastfurnaces going and a transition from coal to lower-emission energy sources.
But even this sum fell far short of the “billions of pounds” that France and Germany are offering their own steelmakers, she said. She also called for tougher measures to ensure more domestically produced steel was used in UK infrastructure, as well as action to tackle “profiteering” from energy firms.
Shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, saidRead more on theguardian.com